We are very grateful to The Scottish Land Fund for their award of grant funding to enable the purchase of the old Slains Kirk building as a centre for the SEAchange project, together with land on which to plant community woodland. Conveyancing work is in progress, and we hope this will be completed by the end of March.
We plan to start work on essential exterior repairs to the building as soon as possible, to prevent further damage. We plan to ask local contractors to estimate for undertaking this work.
At the same time we will be writing funding applications to all the funds which we have researched, to begin to put together a funding package for the renovation of the building to create the café. Following our research, we have discovered that we are not able to submit these applications until we have ownership of the building.
When we have secured funding, the renovation work inside the building can take place, following on from the external repairs.
Providing a focus for our community, the acquisition of Slains Kirk building will enable us to create a centre with a café. The plan is to develop a social enterprise café which would aim to generate enough income to cover its own running costs – including paid staff so that volunteers are not diverted from other projects – and to make a profit.
We’ve received costed architectural sketch designs to upgrade the building to a highly energy efficient and sustainable space. The year-round café / bistro would cater for locals and visitors, with a strong emphasis on local provenance and sustainability.
It will give a lead by example in sourcing all food as locally as possible, by providing exciting plant-based menu choices, and in participating with local initiatives to use surplus food for community benefit, thereby creating as little waste as possible.
Initial plans are to open four days a week, which would increase if there is sufficient demand.
This will be a centre for sharing information about climate change and what individuals can do through lifestyle choices. There will be wall displays about low carbon living, and the carbon footprint of the foods served in the café.
The centre would also be available for hire for occasional events.
We hope to host a program of gatherings, special evenings and classes by local artists and musicians as demand dictates. There will be space for the sale of paintings, jewellery and other crafts. Display space will also include interactive information on energy conservation and local heritage. Our business plan and an independent feasibility study indicate the café will be self-sustaining, and will
also provide a growing income stream for the community, allowing us to address some of the transport issues in future stages of the project.
Equally important, the planting of trees on community land will create a living demonstration of how many trees would be required to offset our carbon footprint. It will also allow us to create together an area to enjoy, learn from and share with birds and wildlife.
This part of our project will provide opportunity for people to be involved in a practical way through helping with tree planting, creating paths and a children’s play area. The land nearest to the building is essential for car parking. Without facilities for parking we may not get planning permission for the centre.
We will start to plant trees as soon as possible when we own the land, and that will be ongoing, as we continuing to work together on creating and then maintaining the woodland in good order.
Volunteers from the community are eager to work on this. We already have a good number of trees which have been donated, and are in large pots waiting for planting.
We will apply for grants to augment the number of trees, and to provide tree guards.
We will install solar panels at ground level on some of the glebe land.
We have plans for events during the planting of the woodland, and the building work, as we believe it is very important for the whole community to be included and involved in the progress of the project. We plan to open the woodland and the building to the community as soon as is consistent with health and safety aspects, on an ongoing basis throughout the project.
We have already started to host a series of events on the climate emergency, involving all in the community who want to participate.
Our plans include continuing monthly talks, on an ongoing basis, and also discussion meetings about behaviour change, transport emissions and alternatives, the climate impacts of food and other relevant topics.
You can catch up with an earlier meeting when 58 people came to hear a talk by Professor Pete Smith, FRS, FRSE, who is an international climate change scientist working at the University of Aberdeen, who has contributed regularly to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Click the link to see his slides on the Climate Emergency when he spoke on 26th February 2020.
We have specific plans for a number of further talks, together with action-planning meetings. W hile Covid restrictions continue these are being held online. If you would like to participate in these meetings email <email@example.com>
Meanwhile plans are continuing to evolve all the time through email communication.
We will be continuing to collect data on existing/reduced use of fossil fuels and other sources of greenhouse gas emissions, researching and providing information on ways to reduce our carbon footprints.
Also providing learning resources with respect to the impacts of climate change – for local children and young people, in partnership with Slains School – especially ways to reduce our own and our community’s climate impact.
We plan training in skills such as improved driving techniques to minimise fuel consumption.
Additionally research is taking place into the possibility of also creating a community area for growing vegetables – something there is much enthusiasm for.
If we are successful in being given grant funding we will employ a project manager to help with developing the project, adding expertise and co-ordination to all the ideas which the community have brought together in this project.
After renovation of the building is complete, we will launch with advertising on social media and in the press, on posters and as widely as possible, to tell people about the new centre with its café – including the potential of the space available to the wider community, and to local artists, musicians and others.
We will also focus on the heritage of the building and of the community as a whole, with a group developing that aspect.
SEAchange is a community project – its success belongs to the community, and is dependent on fulfilling their aspirations.